The Loma Theater opened its doors to Socorro residents in 1937. Located on the town plaza, it was in the center of all that was happening in town. However, 19 years later, in December of 1956, a large fire broke out in an adjacent business and spread to the theater. Ironically, this occurred during a showing of "The Day the World Ended" which was playing in the background as crowds were pouring out of the theater. The fire completely destroyed the theater and several adjacent buildings and businesses. It took them about 3 hours just to get the fire under control. Needless to say, the building was not salvageable. Over 200 people escaped and no one was hurt.
The hunt began - the Loma was reborn in a different location (where it now resides). The current building housing the Loma was built around the turn of the century as a large general store by the Price Brothers. The Price Brothers were bought out in 1904 by the Lowenstein Brothers, and the building is listed on the State Historic Register as the Price-Lowenstein Mercantile Building. It is a wood frame and brick building with a cavernous basement that runs the entire length of the building. Following the deaths of all three Lowenstein brothers, the building became a National Guard armory in 1921. With the fire destroying the original Loma theater in 1956, they began looking for a new location. At about the same time, a new armory was built outside of town. After the armory moved in 1958, the building was extensively remodeled for use as a theater. In 1959, the theater reopened.
The original auditorium featured seating for more than 600 people with a large center section, and two wing sections on either side. The front of the theater featured bench seating for kids and a stage platform just in front of the screen was accessible by steps on either side of the auditorium. As it was privately-owned, the owners used to stage contests for younger audiences (aisle races, talent shows, etc.) during weekend matinees (this was in the 1970s). The theater also featured two enclosed special viewing rooms located at the back of the auditorium. On the right side was a “crying room", accessible from the auditorium, where parents could take crying infants so that they didn't disturb other viewers. To the left was a smoking room, accessible via a narrow stairway from the lobby. Sound was provided to both of these rooms via drive-in speakers so the parents and smokers wouldn't miss out!
The Loma again underwent an extensive remodel in 1986. Both wing areas were removed, as were the special viewing rooms - this effectively cut the available seating in half. The left wing area became part of the adjacent First State Bank. The bench seating was removed along with the stage, and the screen was downsized and brought forward. That also reduced the auditorium to about half of the previous size. The original entrance alcove was done away with, resulting in the flat-faced building you see in the pictures. The facade was also stuccoed to give it the appearance of Spanish Mission-style architecture.
On October 23, 2008, the theater (then operated by Trans-Lux) was closed. On January 5, 2009, the theater was reopened again under Bloomhuff Theaters (as "The New Loma Stadium Cinema." Although massive renovations to create a stadium seating cinema were done to the interior, the theater equipment was not updated, which ultimately led to their demise. The theater could only show movies on 35 mm film, and all new movies had gone completely digital so getting in any movies - first or second run - was virtually impossible. The owner was faced with a costly equipment upgrade or closing the doors, and unfortunately the decision was the latter. The theater was closed again on March 13, 2014.
In 2017, talks began between New Mexico Tech President Stephen Wells and the theater building's owner, First State Bank, to reopen the theater to the community while utilizing it for Tech purposes as well. With this joint effort, Tech was able to purchase a digital projector system which included 3D capabilities. In summer 2017, Wells joined efforts with Elmo Baca, a reputable theater manager from Las Vegas, NM, in order to run the movie portion of the theater. The "New Loma Theater" reopened for business in fall 2018, with a soft opening on October 28, and the grand opening on November 3.
The New Loma was received with open arms and the community loves having a theater with current day capabilities. Having first-run movies on opening day, and being able to show in both 2D and 3D formats, the New Loma provides a great opportunity to see new movies without having to drive an hour to do it. Community support and reviews have shown that the theater's return has been very welcomed.
Want to check us out for yourself? Come visit us at the New Loma Theater! We'll see you at the movies!
The Loma Theater - post-1986 renovation
The New Loma Stadium Cinema - post-2009 renovation
The New Loma Theater - 2017
The New Loma Theater Grand Opening
Soft opening - Oct 28-29, 2017
The theater at dusk
Soft Opening - Oct 28-29, 2017
The New Loma Theater Grand Opening - Nov 3, 2017
The Loma in the News!
Want to learn more about what the Loma's been up to lately? Check out these local articles!
El Defensor Chieftain (February 1, 2018) - Filmed here, showing here: '12 Strong' debuts Friday at New Loma Theater
New Mexico Tech Student Life (December 1, 2017) - The Loma Theater
El Defensor Chieftain (November 9, 2017) - Socorro celebrates theater’s reopening
El Defensor Chieftain (November 2, 2017) - ‘Thor’ sequel to be featured at Loma Theater grand opening
El Defensor Chieftain (October 19, 2017) - Loma Theater prepares for soft opening
El Defensor Chieftain (October 12, 2017) - Loma Theater to have November grand opening
El Defensor Chieftain (October 5, 2017) - Loma to have November grand opening
El Defensor Chieftain (August 10, 2017) - Reviving the Loma: Socorro theater set for an early fall reopening